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REPUBLICANS TOSS THE RULE BOOK
This week, the Republicans cemented their stance that rules no longer matter. After Senate Democrats successfully filibustered the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, Mitch McConnell and all Senate Republicans (52 in total), voted to lower the threshold for advancing Supreme Court nominations from 60 votes (which they did not have), to a simple majority. This morning, Neil Gorsuch was confirmed as the next United States Supreme Court justice.

Of note, don't let Sen. John McCain's rhetoric fool you. He was quoted as saying on the subject of the nuclear-option deployed by Mitch MccConnell, "I think this is a dark day in the history of the United States Senate...It's going to happen and it's interesting that Republicans were dead-set against it when my former colleague, Harry Reid, invoked it with the judges. But now it seems to be OK." {source} Despite this, Senator McCain did in fact join the ranks of his party and vote in favor of the nuclear-option.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I think we've had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the Presidency." - Donald J. Trump, Week 11

And because we couldn't have said it better ourselves, we'll just quote directly from NY Magazine: “This may be a literally true statement, in the sense that Trump may actually think it. However, it is a strange opinion for a person to hold. Trump has had two executive orders blocked by federal courts; seen his first, major legislative initiative collapse in the House of Representatives after falling to 17 percent in the polls; accepted the resignation of his National Security Adviser; is facing a major investigation by the FBI; has probably violated the Constitution; has assembled a staff riven by utter mutual loathing; and has lowest approval ratings ever recorded for a president as this stage in his term. He has also only held office for 11 weeks, even though it may feel like 13 or even more."

RESISTANCE SPOTLIGHT: JON OSSOF (GA) & JAMES THOMPSON (KS) FIGHT TO TAKE BACK 2 SEATS IN THE HOUSE
Jon Ossof and James Thompson are pushing hard in the final days before the Georgia and Kansas United States House of Representatives special elections.

Kansas' Special Election is just four days away on April 11.
A US House seat opened in Kansas when Mike Pompeo left to head the CIA under Trump. Attorney James Thompson (D) is running head-on against Republican state Treasurer Ron Estes, in what is described as a deep-red district. Estes is getting a huge financial boost as the Republican party begins pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race just days before the election. {source}

Georgia's Jon Ossof has under two weeks until the April 18 primary.
Eighteen candidates are running in the April 18 open primary to fill former Republican Rep. Tom Price's seat (he is now serving as Health and Human Services secretary.) If none of the candidates receives more than 50% of the vote, the top-two finishers, regardless of party, will advance to a June 20 runoff. 30-year old Democratic candidate, Jon Ossof, raised $8.3 million during the first quarter of this year. {source}

THIS WEEK IN THE RESISTANCE
Steve Bannon gets the boot off the National Security Council. A lot of questions remain around why or what happened to lead to his removal, but the noise from the Resistance certainly didn't hurt. {source}

Devin Nunes, maintaining role as Chair of House Intelligence Committee, steps down from overseeing the congressional Russia probe amid outcry over ethics concerns. {source} Keep making calls to demand appointment of a special prosecutor - all members of Congress can be reached at 202-224-3121.

Zombie Trumpcare stays dead...for now. Republicans failed for a second time to revive TrumpCare. But be prepared, the GOP & Freedom Caucus look towards reviving it after recess.

States are stepping up to combat Trump policies. Maryland becomes the first state to enact a law that will reimburse Planned Parenthood for its services if there are any federal cuts to the organization. {source}

GET INVOLVED
  1. Resist. Repeat. Congress heads out today on its two week spring recess - you know what to do. Our friends at Indivisible published Making the Most of April Recess: Five Policy Priorities. Center for American Progress just released its Recess Toolkit, and our Policy Working Groups put out weekly summaries, including questions to ask your Members of Congress. Find an issue you care about and take your questions to the next town hall.
  2. Speaking of Town Halls. Your members of Congress should be hosting them over the next two weeks. Find the ones near you by checking the RISE People's Calendar or Town Hall Project.
  3. One week until the April 15 Tax March. With 43 states and five countries already signed up, the April 15th Tax March is shaping up to be the largest nationwide protest since the January 21 Women's March on Washington. As an official partner of the Tax March, we're calling on all RISE members to get involved locally and nationally by spreading the word or hosting a Tax March on your home turf. Sign up here: taxmarch.org and call your Representatives and Senators to demand a vote on legislation requiring POTUS tax disclosure. {House bill}
CAN'T MISS MEDIA
The LA Times editorial board launched a 6 part series on Trump. All are online, available here.

From the first, 'Our Dishonest President', "...The role of the rational opposition is to stand up for the rule of law, the electoral process, the peaceful transfer of power and the role of institutions; we should not underestimate the resiliency of a system in which laws are greater than individuals and voters are as powerful as presidents. This nation survived Andrew Jackson and Richard Nixon. It survived slavery. It survived devastating wars. Most likely, it will survive again...But if it is to do so, those who oppose the new president's reckless and heartless agenda must make their voices heard. Protesters must raise their banners. Voters must turn out for elections. Members of Congress — including and especially Republicans — must find the political courage to stand up to Trump. Courts must safeguard the Constitution. State legislators must pass laws to protect their citizens and their policies from federal meddling. All of us who are in the business of holding leaders accountable must redouble our efforts to defend the truth from his cynical assaults."

SYRIA - SORTING THROUGH THE NOISE.
On Tuesday, Syria's leader Bashar-al-Assad gassed his own people, then bombed the hospitals treating them. At least 85 died, including 20 children. {source} Late Thursday night, Trump launched a missile attack on Syrian military installations in retaliation. This situation is going to evolve rapidly and in the worst case scenarios, unpredictably. How will we know whether things are stabilizing or deteriorating? Here are four key elements to watch:
  1. US Next Steps - Whether the United States continues to launch additional missile strikes, turns to stabilizing coalition building with allies, or resumes diplomatic talks with the Syrians and Russians towards a ceasefire and resumption of peace talks. If no additional strikes or targets are launched, we would expect the immediate crisis to settle over the next week. However, if additional missiles are launched, particularly on new targets, Russia, Syria, and Iran could decide to respond with more than words, unsettling the balance of power and sending the conflict on an uncharted and volatile trajectory. Secretary Tillerson is scheduled to arrive in Moscow on Tuesday for a previously scheduled visit - but the stakes just got a lot higher.
  2. Russia's reaction - not Putin's words, but his actions. As of Friday morning Putin's response was harsh words, cutting off existing military cooperation with the U.S. that ensures no mid-air collisions in Syrian airspace, and making a big show of promising Assad that Russia would bolster Syria's air defense systems to repel future attacks. But Russia and the U.S. are constantly in the same airspace above Syria, so the potential for accidental or deliberate military clashes is very real without U.S.-Russia communication channels. If Russia were to attack U.S. military personnel or assets accidentally or deliberately, depending on how Trump responds, we would suddenly find ourselves on the brink of full blown war with Russia.
  3. U.S. allies' reaction - So far the British, German, French, EU, Australian, Israeli, Turkish and Saudi Arabian leaders declared the U.S. strikes justified and necessary, even though they were launched unilaterally without UN approval. The Syrian resistance also praised the strikes. Maintaining allies' support for U.S. actions will help stabilize the situation because Russia, Syria, and their allies know they are facing a united front; if however the U.S. takes steps that splits our allies or is roundly condemned by some or all of them, the situation grows more volatile, and Russia gains the upper hand.
  4. U.S. domestic reaction - Support for/opposition to the strikes has split along predictable political lines. Trump's core supporters and the “alt-right" white supremacists and ultra-nationalists have also condemned the strikes, declaring the chemical weapons attack a hoax (#Syriahoax) and criticizing Trump for breaking his campaign promise to get out of the Middle East. If however this balance shifts, with major street protests from the right or left or both, this could strengthen the hand of Steve Bannon and others in Trump's circle who opposed the strikes and turn Trump's calculus in a different direction. Trump could then reverse course and behave unpredictably, confusing or angering our allies, and further destabilizing the situation.
The Bottom Line: Trump is unpredictable, irresponsible, and has shown incoherence and ineptitude in managing complex foreign policy issues and maintaining good relationships with our key allies (see: Merkel handshake) and constraining those who threaten U.S. national security (see: Putin, #Muslimban). Whether this situation stabilizes or deteriorates will depend largely on whether Trump follows the counsel of seasoned career professionals at the National Security Council, State Department, and DOD, or decides to go it alone with his merry band of inexperienced, extremist "political" advisors. A calm and steady hand is needed at the wheel now more than ever.

POST APRIL RECESS
We have a two week 'hiatus'. Catch your breath, put pressure on your MoCs while they are in your own zip, and keep an eye on the big things set for after recess, including 1) tax reform; 2) a budget showdown - hopefully before the government shutdown is scheduled to take place (April 28); and 3) TrumpCare / Affordable Care Act battle.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY IN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
RISE Stronger Policy Working Groups track legislation, provide in-depth analysis, and weekly summaries. All are published at www.risestronger.org/newsroom/policy.

A lot happened this week in Science & Tech in the Trump administration. This week's summary is here. Want five quick things you can do to take action over the next two weeks? Here you go:
  1. The April congressional recess is coming up very soon (April 10-21). Click here or here to find a town hall--and if your member of Congress isn't having, one ask them why. Ask your congressional representatives their opinion on Trump's environmental actions and let them know that you want them to vote for strong support for scientific programming.
  2. Thank the Republican representatives who joined Democrats in voting NO on the "HONEST" Act: Ryan Costello (PA), Carlos Curbelo (FL), John Faso (NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Mark Sanford (SC), and Elise Stefanik (NY).
  3. The "HONEST" Act and the Science Advisory Board Reform Act are now in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Is your senator on the committee? If so please contact them and let them know these two acts cannot become law. See the list of committee members here.
  4. Ask your representative to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, which will explore policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate. The caucus was founded in February of 2016 by two south-Florida representatives, Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL), who serve as co-chairs of the caucus.
  5. Joseph Kopser, an aerospace scientist, tech company CEO and former Army Ranger, is considering a run for Congress Texas' 21st District, the seat currently held by Republican Lamar Smith, chair of the House Science Committee. Consider pledging your support here.
Other RISE Policy Working Group summaries:
  • Week 10 in Energy & Environment: Propping up Fossil Energy Production {source}
  • Week 10 in Trade: The Administration Reconsiders NAFTA {source}

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